Quarterback By Committee - Footballguys

Finding a Starting Quarterback by Committee for 2018

Over the past few years, there have been two very popular articles written by our very own Chase Stuart that look at an interesting approach to building a fantasy team with late value picks. Based on the theory of using both Strength of Schedule ("SOS") and taking two players as a combination to build one very good player, he has discussed both Team Defense by Committee ("TDBC") and Quarterback by Committee ("QBBC") as a general fantasy league strategy. In general, I think that this is a wise move because very early on in fantasy drafts there are a ton of running back and wide receiver prospects to go after to build a great team. While there are a few studs at quarterback and also a few choice defenses, I do not see a huge need in leagues to pursue either too hard in the beginning stages of a fantasy draft.

Well, this year Chase asked me to help him out with the Quarterback by Committee Article since I am so familiar with the concept. Our methods sometimes differ, but the end result is usually close to the same. So with this in mind, I decided to apply my normal method for the other positions (running back, wide receiver, and tight end) to the quarterback position. Let's take a look at how I went about building this committee and then we can digest and discuss the results.

HUDDLE UP

So how to begin? Defenses and quarterbacks are relatively easy to committee together. There's usually only one quarterback and certainly only one team defense per NFL club, so the approach is pretty simple as far as picking out which players/teams to try and pair up. However, I cannot expect to have every quarterback available to me for this process. After all, the goal here is to wait at the position and pick up two value picks later in the draft to form our combo and serve as a solid committee. I decided that I would use the following criteria to decide which players to start with for evaluating:

CRITERIA #1 - QB13 AND BEYOND

This seems pretty simple. If we want to have a duo that puts up QB1 numbers, that means we want QB12 or better production - else we would just draft QB12 or higher and forget the whole idea. So here is the list of players with which I started, based on their Average Draft Position (ADP):

ADP Rank
Quarterback
ADP Rank
Quarterback
QB13
Philip Rivers
QB20
Dak Prescott
QB14
Matt Ryan
QB21
Jameis Winston
QB15
Patrick Mahomes II
QB22
Eli Manning
QB16
Jared Goff
QB23
Andy Dalton
QB17
Marcus Mariota
QB24
Blake Bortles
QB18
Alex Smith
QB25
Mitchell Trubisky
QB19
Derek Carr
QB26
Case Keenum

Table 1: Quarterbacks QB13-QB26 Based on ADP

I went all the way to QB26 just to be thorough, but my gut tells me that I should not really bother for anyone beyond QB24 - but I decided to be thorough and go with as many quarterbacks with assured starting roles just to be safe and consider as many options as possible. Several situations are either a mess or not worthy of consideration, so drawing the line just above those 5-6 teams feels about right. So I took the Top 26 quarterbacks from the ADP list, removed the Top 12 - which left me with 14 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 91 potential committees, so there had better be a decent one (or several, we hope) out of all of those couplets. Now, before I go over the method of how to pair them up and the results, we need one more rule:

CRITERIA #2 - NO MORE THAN ONE QB FROM ROUND 8+ AND ONE FROM ROUND 10+

This could get tricky here, but understand the overall goal. The point of QBBC is to free up the first 9-10 rounds of your fantasy draft to pursue all of the other positions for your team. Grabbing three to four running backs and four to five receivers after grabbing a stud running back or wide receiver in Round 1 sounds like a good idea to me. This also gives you the flexibility of grabbing a stud tight end, depending on your personal preference, or even to get QB1 if there's a huge value play available and have the QBBC be your QB2 in a Superflex or start-two-quarterbacks league. Flexibility is the name of the game here. We all want value in our drafts, and having the ability to grab lots of RBs and WRs in the first 9-10 Rounds gives us that ability.

Here is the good news - all of the quarterbacks on the list ranked higher than QB14 have ADPs above Round 10 or higher (later), and even QB12 (Andrew Luck, ADP 109), QB13 (Philip Rivers, ADP 111) and QB14 (Matt Ryan, ADP 113) are going off the board in Round 10 while QB15 (Patrick Mahomes, ADP 121) and QB 16 (Jared Goff, ADP 129) project to be taken before the end of Round 11. We will have to keep that in mind when we look at the result because if we decide to wait unit Rounds 11-12 to get the second quarterback in the pair to finish out our QBBC we may be pushing it a little too far and may not get the combination that we want.

So what do we do now to figure out some quarterback pairs?

CRITERIA #3 - USE FOOTBALLGUYS' QB STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

This sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Just take the quarterback strength of schedule to figure out when certain players are more likely to score well. What I did is similar to what the Projections Dominator and Draft Dominator do for you - take the projected fantasy points and slice them up over 17 weeks based on the strength of schedule. I call this result the distributed fantasy points for each quarterback.

After I had all 14 quarterbacks with distributed fantasy points on a weekly basis, I just compared all of the possible quarterback pairs to find the best duos for QBBC. So here we are - time for some results.

Rank
Quarterback 1
Quarterback 2
Value
1
Philip Rivers
Alex Smith
349.8
2
Alex Smith
Dak Prescott
349.4
3
Patrick Mahomes II
Alex Smith
346.0
4
Philip Rivers
Jared Goff
342.8
5
Jared Goff
Alex Smith
342.1
6
Matt Ryan
Patrick Mahomes II
342.0
7
Matt Ryan
Alex Smith
341.8
8
Matt Ryan
Jared Goff
341.5
9
Alex Smith
Jameis Winston
341.1
10
Dak Prescott
Jameis Winston
339.6
11
Marcus Mariota
Alex Smith
339.0
12
Alex Smith
Derek Carr
338.7
13
Patrick Mahomes II
Dak Prescott
338.5
14
Alex Smith
Case Keenum
338.1
15
Alex Smith
Eli Manning
337.9
16
Philip Rivers
Patrick Mahomes II
337.6
17
Alex Smith
Blake Bortles
336.9
18
Jared Goff
Marcus Mariota
336.7
19
Alex Smith
Mitchell Trubisky
336.5
20
Jared Goff
Dak Prescott
336.2
21
Patrick Mahomes II
Jameis Winston
334.6
22
Matt Ryan
Jameis Winston
334.3
23
Alex Smith
Andy Dalton
333.7
24
Jared Goff
Jameis Winston
333.7
25
Dak Prescott
Andy Dalton
332.3
26
Derek Carr
Dak Prescott
330.9
27
Philip Rivers
Jameis Winston
330.7
28
Philip Rivers
Eli Manning
330.1
29
Patrick Mahomes II
Marcus Mariota
329.9
30
Patrick Mahomes II
Blake Bortles
329.7
31
Philip Rivers
Derek Carr
329.3
32
Dak Prescott
Blake Bortles
328.9
33
Jared Goff
Andy Dalton
328.8
34
Matt Ryan
Andy Dalton
328.1
35
Philip Rivers
Andy Dalton
327.7
36
Matt Ryan
Case Keenum
327.6
37
Marcus Mariota
Jameis Winston
327.5
38
Dak Prescott
Mitchell Trubisky
327.2
39
Matt Ryan
Derek Carr
327.1
40
Patrick Mahomes II
Derek Carr
327.0
41
Philip Rivers
Blake Bortles
327.0
42
Matt Ryan
Mitchell Trubisky
326.7
43
Jared Goff
Mitchell Trubisky
326.5
44
Marcus Mariota
Derek Carr
326.3
45
Jared Goff
Blake Bortles
326.0
46
Patrick Mahomes II
Andy Dalton
325.7
47
Matt Ryan
Blake Bortles
325.4
48
Jared Goff
Case Keenum
325.4
49
Matt Ryan
Dak Prescott
324.9
50
Patrick Mahomes II
Case Keenum
323.9
51
Patrick Mahomes II
Eli Manning
323.7
52
Matt Ryan
Eli Manning
323.6
53
Jared Goff
Derek Carr
323.4
54
Philip Rivers
Mitchell Trubisky
322.8
55
Marcus Mariota
Andy Dalton
322.8
56
Philip Rivers
Case Keenum
322.7
57
Jameis Winston
Blake Bortles
322.7
58
Philip Rivers
Matt Ryan
322.5
59
Philip Rivers
Dak Prescott
322.4
60
Jameis Winston
Eli Manning
322.4
61
Jared Goff
Eli Manning
322.2
62
Marcus Mariota
Blake Bortles
321.7
63
Dak Prescott
Eli Manning
321.6
64
Dak Prescott
Case Keenum
321.3
65
Marcus Mariota
Eli Manning
321.0
66
Patrick Mahomes II
Mitchell Trubisky
320.1
67
Jameis Winston
Andy Dalton
319.8
68
Derek Carr
Jameis Winston
319.5
69
Blake Bortles
Case Keenum
319.1
70
Patrick Mahomes II
Jared Goff
319.1
71
Jameis Winston
Case Keenum
317.8
72
Matt Ryan
Marcus Mariota
316.6
73
Marcus Mariota
Dak Prescott
315.9
74
Marcus Mariota
Mitchell Trubisky
314.9
75
Philip Rivers
Marcus Mariota
314.3
76
Blake Bortles
Mitchell Trubisky
314.2
77
Derek Carr
Andy Dalton
314.0
78
Marcus Mariota
Case Keenum
313.2
79
Andy Dalton
Case Keenum
312.0
80
Alex Smith
n/a
311.9

Table 2: Quarterback Committee Pairs

As we can see from Table 2, we have some very good pairs to select from for QBBC. There are 79 pairs that are worth more than Alex Smith by his lonesome, who is projected to come in with 311.9 points. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Quarterback
Frequency
Quarterback
Frequency
Alex Smith
13
Jameis Winston
12
Dak Prescott
13
Andy Dalton
10
Jared Goff
13
Blake Bortles
10
Marcus Mariota
13
Case Keenum
10
Matt Ryan
13
Derek Carr
9
Patrick Mahomes II
13
Eli Manning
8
Philip Rivers
13
Mitchell Trubisky
8

Table 3: Quarterback Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, the results do not narrow the field that much this year. Seven quarterbacks appear 13 times, while every quarterback is listed at least eight times. The good news is that there are a lot of options, and most assuredly several quarterback pairings will result in very good QBBC options this year - possibly even exceptional. Examining the list of Table 2 options along with some ADP and situational information should make putting a combination of two of the 14 guys together pretty easy, or even using one of them with a key late pick for our committee. To find out the best strategy, we need to look closer at all of the results.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that we have 79 possible pairs that are better than Alex Smith, what exactly does that mean? Should he be the basis of our comparison? Of course not. Remember our goal - find a pair of quarterbacks that can combine for QB1-type fantasy production. To figure that out we need a better metric, so here are the projections for the Top 12 quarterbacks in standard scoring:

ADP
QB Rank
Quarterback
Team
FPs
36
1
Aaron Rodgers
GB
354.2
59
4
Tom Brady
NE
336.9
56
2
Russell Wilson
SEA
335.1
58
3
Deshaun Watson
HOU
328.6
68
5
Cam Newton
CAR
332.6
75
6
Drew Brees
NO
322.6
139
18
Alex Smith
WAS
311.8
104
11
Jimmy Garoppolo
SF
310.2
100
9
Kirk Cousins
MIN
311.1
101
10
Matthew Stafford
DET
315.1
77
7
Carson Wentz
PHI
312.1
98
8
Ben Roethlisberger
PIT
308.7
129
16
Jared Goff
LAR
303.1
113
14
Matt Ryan
ATL
304.2
111
13
Philip Rivers
LAC
302.2
121
15
Patrick Mahomes II
KC
300.4
148
20
Dak Prescott
DAL
302.0
109
12
Andrew Luck
IND
302.6

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for Top 12+ ADP QBs

Based on Table 4, we see that quarterbacks in the Top 6 are pretty well defined heading into 2018, but after that things get rather with unclear predictions for the bottom half of the Top 10-12 list. That makes things interesting for our QBBC approach, as a strong pair of QB2s could compare favorably to one or more of these Top 12 options. To compare apples to apples, we need to adjust how we view Table 4 and the committee choices in Table 2. The committees represent 17 full weeks of play, while the individual players in Table 4 all have a bye week - so we have to add a correction to make the comparison more even. A reasonable number for a bye week fantasy starting quarterback would be 15-18 fantasy points, so if we take a baseline of Ben Roethlisberger (forecasted as QB12, ADP of QB8, 308.7 projected points) from Table 4 and add 15-18 points for a bye week spot starter, we have 323.7-326.7 points. The Top 51 choices for QBBC from Table 2 meet or exceed 323.7 points, while 42 match or exceed the upper part of the range (326.7 projected points). With so many choices, we can raise the bar to QB6, Drew Brees, who also projects as QB6 with 322.6 projected points. Using a similar bye week fill-in and we need a QBBC pair with 337.6-340.6 projected points, which still provides 9-16 pairs on Table 2 that fall in that range, which means that choosing the correct pair can give us the result we wanted - QB1 production on the cheap.

Table 5 gives a quick synopsis of the best 16 QBBC options for this coming season, along with my own personal rankings and selections:

Rank
Quarterback 1
Quarterback 2
Value
ADP1
ADP2
Jeff's Top 6 QBBCs
1
Philip Rivers
Alex Smith
349.8
13
18
4
2
Alex Smith
Dak Prescott
349.4
18
20
5
3
Patrick Mahomes II
Alex Smith
346.0
15
18
4
Philip Rivers
Jared Goff
342.8
13
16
5
Jared Goff
Alex Smith
342.1
16
18
2
6
Matt Ryan
Patrick Mahomes II
342.0
14
15
7
Matt Ryan
Alex Smith
341.8
14
18
3
8
Matt Ryan
Jared Goff
341.5
14
16
9
Alex Smith
Jameis Winston
341.1
18
21
1
10
Dak Prescott
Jameis Winston
339.6
20
21
6
11
Marcus Mariota
Alex Smith
339.0
17
18
12
Alex Smith
Derek Carr
338.7
18
19
13
Patrick Mahomes II
Dak Prescott
338.5
15
20
14
Alex Smith
Case Keenum
338.1
18
26
15
Alex Smith
Eli Manning
337.9
18
22
16
Philip Rivers
Patrick Mahomes II
337.6
13
15

Table 5: Top QBBC Choices for 2018

PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

Considering all of the results in Table 5, the QBBC committee recipe for 2018 has a pretty straightforward plan - take Alex Smith (ADP of 139) in Round 10 or 11 and then take the quarterback you like the most in Round 11, 12 or even Round 13. Alex Smith is one of the two quarterbacks suggested in Table 5 for 8 of the Top 12 options, so getting Smith based on his high projections (311.8 points, projected to finish as QB10) is critical for the committee. The great part is that Smith is getting completely overlooked this year, getting selected on average as the 18th quarterback off the draft board. Some of that is the lackluster appeal of Alex Smith, and part of it is his new home in Washington - but if you believe in Footballguys' projections (and based on our history, you most certainly should) then Smith is one of the best values around. So Plans A, B, C, and so on for QBBC in 2018 is clear - draft Alex Smith. After that, it becomes one of a matter of preference for the second half of the committee. My personal preference steers me towards Jamies Winston as my top option. Winston has a history of posting top numbers, and his ADP is also suppressed due to his three-game suspension to begin the regular season. With Winston (QB21, ADP 154 overall) going late in Round 13, the Smith-Winston pair is so cheap - and projects so well - that it is clear that I want them as my top choice for this year's QBBC top option.

Alex Smith is the focus ot the QBBC this year, with 8 of the Top 12 duos in Table 5 including the new starter in Washington. Focusing on the Top 10 options on Table 5 and removing any pairing that doesn't include Smith or one that includes a questionable young starter (Patrick Mahomes) leaves five QBBC options to consider. The Top 2 - Alex Smith and either Philp Rivers or Dak Prescott - have to make the cut with the highest (and similar) projections. Jared Goff and Matt Ryan also make the cut as strong starters with high fantasy upside. Both Goff (QB16 based on ADP) and Ryan (QB14) have good receivers and running backs that can make plenty of catches, yards, and touchdowns so they are Plan B and Plan C compared to Smith-Winston. I would personally take Goff over Ryan for a little more upside and a lower ADP, resulting in Goff being a little cheaper in most drafts (roughly going a round later). Philip Rivers is nearly a non-starter of a Plan D, simply because drafting Rivers as QB13 off the board is too expensive when cheaper (later) options are nearly identical in production. That leaves Dak Prescott (QB20) as the best / last option for an Alex Smith duo. If for some reason you wait on Winston, Goff or Ryan and they are all sniped before your second quarterback pick, Prescott is a viable backup choice. The concern is the Dallas offense with no proven WR1 on the roster, but Prescott has solid playmaking skills. To round things out, if all goes awry and Smith is taken, the next best option that offers two quarterbacks beyond QB15 are Winston and Prescott, coming in at Pair #10. Whichever path you choose, landing a Top 10 QBBC projects a range of 339.6 to 349.8 fantasy points, or barely more than a long touchdown pass of a difference from QBBC Pair #1 to Pair #10.

Example schedules for my favorite six QBBC options are provided in Tables 6-11 below. Here I give you the best weekly plays for each quarterback, based on projections.

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Alex Smith
at Arizona
2
Alex Smith
Indianapolis
3
Alex Smith
Green Bay
4
Jameis Winston
at Chicago
5
Alex Smith
at New Orleans
6
Alex Smith
Carolina
Jameis Winston
at Atlanta
7
Alex Smith
Dallas
8
Alex Smith
at NY Giants
Jameis Winston
at Cincinnati
9
Alex Smith
Atlanta
Jameis Winston
at Carolina
10
Alex Smith
at Tampa Bay
11
Alex Smith
Houston
12
Alex Smith
at Dallas
13
Alex Smith
at Philadelphia
14
Alex Smith
NY Giants
15
Alex Smith
at Jacksonville
16
Jameis Winston
at Dallas
17
Alex Smith
Philadelphia

Table 6: Suggested QBBC Schedule Plan - Alex Smith and Jameis Winston

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Alex Smith
at Arizona
2
Alex Smith
Indianapolis
3
Alex Smith
Green Bay
Jared Goff
at LA Chargers
4
Jared Goff
Minnesota
5
Alex Smith
at New Orleans
6
Jared Goff
at Denver
Alex Smith
Carolina
7
Alex Smith
Dallas
8
Jared Goff
Green Bay
9
Jared Goff
at New Orleans
10
Alex Smith
at Tampa Bay
11
Alex Smith
Houston
12
Alex Smith
at Dallas
13
Jared Goff
at Detroit
14
Alex Smith
NY Giants
15
Jared Goff
Philadelphia
16
Alex Smith
at Tennessee
17
Jared Goff
San Francisco

Table 7: Suggested QBBC Schedule Plan - Alex Smith and Jared Goff

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Alex Smith
at Arizona
2
Alex Smith
Indianapolis
3
Matt Ryan
New Orleans
Alex Smith
Green Bay
4
Matt Ryan
Cincinnati
5
Alex Smith
at New Orleans
6
Matt Ryan
Tampa Bay
7
Alex Smith
Dallas
Matt Ryan
NY Giants
8
Alex Smith
at NY Giants
9
Alex Smith
Atlanta
10
Matt Ryan
at Cleveland
Alex Smith
at Tampa Bay
11
Alex Smith
Houston
12
Matt Ryan
at New Orleans
13
Alex Smith
at Philadelphia
Matt Ryan
Baltimore
14
Matt Ryan
at Green Bay
Alex Smith
NY Giants
15
Matt Ryan
Arizona
16
Alex Smith
at Tennessee
17
Matt Ryan
at Tampa Bay

Table 8: Suggested QBBC Schedule Plan - Alex Smith and Matt Ryan

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Philip Rivers
Kansas City
2
Alex Smith
Indianapolis
3
Alex Smith
Green Bay
4
Philip Rivers
San Francisco
5
Alex Smith
at New Orleans
6
Philip Rivers
at Cleveland
7
Philip Rivers
Tennessee
8
Alex Smith
at NY Giants
9
Alex Smith
Atlanta
Philip Rivers
at Seattle
10
Alex Smith
at Tampa Bay
11
Alex Smith
Houston
12
Alex Smith
at Dallas
Philip Rivers
at Arizona
13
Philip Rivers
at Pittsburgh
14
Alex Smith
NY Giants
Philip Rivers
Cincinnati
15
Philip Rivers
at Kansas City
16
Alex Smith
at Tennessee
17
Philip Rivers
at Denver

Table 9: Suggested QBBC Schedule Plan - Alex Smith and Philip Rivers

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Alex Smith
at Arizona
2
Alex Smith
Indianapolis
3
Alex Smith
Green Bay
4
Dak Prescott
Detroit
5
Alex Smith
at New Orleans
Dak Prescott
at Houston
6
Alex Smith
Carolina
7
Alex Smith
Dallas
8
Alex Smith
at NY Giants
9
Dak Prescott
Tennessee
10
Alex Smith
at Tampa Bay
11
Alex Smith
Houston
12
Alex Smith
at Dallas
13
Dak Prescott
New Orleans
14
Alex Smith
NY Giants
15
Dak Prescott
at Indianapolis
16
Alex Smith
at Tennessee
17
Dak Prescott
at NY Giants

Table 10: Suggested QBBC Schedule Plan - Alex Smith and Dak Prescott

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Dak Prescott
at Carolina
2
Dak Prescott
NY Giants
3
Dak Prescott
at Seattle
4
Dak Prescott
Detroit
5
Dak Prescott
at Houston
6
Jameis Winston
at Atlanta
7
Jameis Winston
Cleveland
8
Jameis Winston
at Cincinnati
9
Dak Prescott
Tennessee
10
Jameis Winston
Washington
11
Jameis Winston
at NY Giants
12
Dak Prescott
Washington
Jameis Winston
San Francisco
13
Dak Prescott
New Orleans
14
Jameis Winston
New Orleans
Jameis Winston
New Orleans
15
Dak Prescott
at Indianapolis
16
Dak Prescott
Tampa Bay
Jameis Winston
at Dallas
17
Dak Prescott
at NY Giants
Jameis Winston
Atlanta

Table 11: Suggested QBBC Schedule Plan - Jameis Winston and Dak Prescott

The committee approach is not a perfect one, but having this knowledge prior to your fantasy draft can prove to be invaluable if you decide to adopt this approach. If all the players on your starter list are gone, going with a committee can save your team and help you deal with the loss of bigger names. The method is also a big help in best-ball leagues, where lineup decisions are not necessary every week. That's exactly where a committee can do the best, as either player can count for you each week.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.